I was born way back, in the dark
ages of audio, in 1953. I'm told it was a good year for wine - I
don't know about that, but I know it was a good year for me. I
spent my youth going to school and living in many places -
Turkey, England and Egypt.
That was thanks to my dad's vocation as a university professor working for the UN (UNESCO and UNIDO). 5 years of Turkey, 3 years of England and 2 years of Egypt is not bad when you're below 20.
Anyway, I got my degree from the
School of Economics, University of Belgrade. Everybody did their
thesis quick and easy, except of course me - I had to write it
first, then try to get two more professors on the board before I
could get a piece of paper proclaiming I was proficient in
economics. My problem was my thesis - "Influence of
computers on labor productivity".
What's the big deal, you say? Today, absolutely nothing, it's probably a boring subject these days, but in mid seventies, nobody wanted to be on a board with a thesis like that. Finally, after waiting for three months straight, a professor returned from abroad, I asked him and he told me he knew nothing about computers - but that he'd like to learn a bit.
So, I managed to become a free man once again, putting the academia firmly behind me. Or so I thought.
I spent the next few years
working on various projects as a consultant - it was a good time,
great jobs, very interesting and I learnt a lot. Money was no
problem. Did my national service October '80 - September '81; not
many people will say this, but that was a good year and a great
Army looks downright mad looking from the outside, but from the inside, it's generally a very sane organization, even if it does have its Twilight Zone quirks here and there. But for me, it was great. In the army, people think the best thing to be is a general - wrong! By far the best thing to be a cook, and I should know, I was one. Nobody, but nobody, not the men, not the officers, wants to be on the wrong side of the cook.
Also, cooking for 150 men is a whole lot of fun - with the equipment I had, I started lunch around 9 and had two dishes ready by 11. No sweat. But, to be honest, I should mention that I was an accomplished cook 10 years before the army, courtesy of my grandmother and mother, both of whom are cooks like you wouldn't believe. Maybe it was because of that knowledge that I was sent to the Military Hospital in Nis, in southern Serbia.
Then, in 1983, I met this girl,
courtesy of a mutual friend. Well, we got married in 1984, and
were blessed with a male child in 1986. That child was born a
little before it was due, and weighed just 2.4 kilos because due
to problems, he was underfed.
He spent the first three weeks of his life in an incubator, after which he was turned over to us. Well, he's over fourteen now and still his eyes are hungrier than his stomach. We named him Dusan - in rough translation, "One with a good soul" (Greeks will understand better, as in Greek, his name would be "Spiros"). Also, the Academia wouldn't let me go - my wife is a pharmacologist, with a Ph.D. in medicine, is a senior professor with tenure on the School of Medicine, University of Belgrade, and the Director of her Institute for Pharmacology, Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology.
Despite all that, I still love her - I won't say more than when I met her, but in a different, hopefully more mature manner.
Since 1985, I have concentrated
on PCs and have made my name in professional journalism. I test
hardware and don't dabble in anything else. That approach made me
Hardware Editor in local magazines, all of which will print
anything I write - but I make very sure I don't write just any
From 1995 to 1998, I also authored and hosted 272 weekly 45 minute TV shows, again on PCs. Then I went on to doing radio shows, opened up my own web magazine on PCs, and I still write a lot.
Now, you may ask, what the hell is an economist doing testing PC hardware? Where are his qualifications? The answer is - audio is behind it all.
Way back in 1965, my father
purchased an Uher report 4000 mono tape deck. In those days, it
was a Nagra killer - radio stations bought Uhers by the ton, as
it offered everything they used to have to buy a Nagra for, but
at say one tenth of the price. Small, 13 cm reels, four speeds
(2.4, 4.7, 9.5 and 19 cm/s), all metal case, rechargable
batteries, you name it, it had it.
Anyway, it took me about an hour to get really hot about it and that's how it all started. Dad lost his tape deck.
To compensate, he bought an Uher
Royal de Luxe 3 head (interchangeable head block, 4 or 2 track)
stereo open reel deck and a Dual 1019 turntable with an outboard
RIAA equalizer. Mom and Dad were in Turkey, I was in school in
England and in 1970, when we finally came together full time, Dad
lost his Uher and Dual.
I was really hooked by then, a regular audio junkie. In just two years, I wore and tore a head block - not many outside studios managed that. While I was fooling around with that, the guy who used to sit in fourth grade of high school with me went on to become one of Yugoslavia's greatest rock stars - that got me involved in professional sound, and my Mom almost went insane.
For a student, buying audio gear is an expensive hobby. Not to be daunted, I started giving lessons to school kids and generated a healthy income. That income then generated a ReVox integrated amplifier from the A series, followed by a pair of AR5 speakers. And records - well, to this day, I have no idea how many I have, but my wife says it's a lot.
In 1981, I purchased my own open
reel tape deck, a Philips N4520. That's some 26 kilos of tape
deck, 10 inch reels, quartz speed control, three speeds (9.5, 19
and 38 cm/s), NAB/IEC equalization, the works.
I still have it, I still service it every year and it still works beautifully. I don't think Philips ever did any better than that, as that machine could take on a ReVox B77, or a Tandberg 20A, or a Ferrograph, and make mince meat out of them.
I went through a spell of
strictly consumer products in those years and finally got around
to constructing the first pieces of my own, solder, burnt out
parts, burns on my fingers and a lot of swearing - but it was
fun. Learnt how to use an oscilloscope in those days.
That's when PCs started appearing, and I was already reasonably proficient in analog electronics, so PCs weren't such a great mystery to me. It didn't take me long to become acquainted with them, and sure enough, in 1984, I was sporting an IBM PC.
A year later I started tweaking that machine and writing about the tweaks, and that got me started in the media.
In 1987, my first power amp was ready. I enjoyed it and as ever, succumbed to a friend's pleas and sold it off to him. He's still using it and it never broke down. In 1986, I sold off the AR5 boxes and bought a pair of AR94 boxes.
By 1990, I was well established as a PC hardware man, and I was brave enough to start designing my own pre and power amp, in conjunction with a good friend of mine, who is an electrical engineer. Between us, we have a proper lab, oscilloscope and all - it's nothing fancy, but it works.
These days, we still dabble in
it all around. That is to say I still do PC hardware testing, but
I also pioneered the DVD concept locally and have spread out to
other magazines writing about the DVD.
I gave up TV as economically unsatisfactory (possible only in Yugoslavia, I think).
In the meanwhile, I got involved in the founding of the only audio magazine in the country, called "Audiofon" - unfortunately, I was the only media professional in the group, and the rest thought they could do it the way they thought was best, resulting in the magazine's bankruptcy about two years ago.
Then we went through a democracy
lesson from our friendly, holier-than-Mother-Theresa NATO last
year and that was some experience. In terms of sound, it was,
shall we say, memorable - once you hear the glorious audio track
of a Tomahawk missile, you won't forget it quickly, and for me,
it just didn't get any more natural than that.
It set back many of my plans and taught me something I had never know before - anger. Not hate, hate is a senseless and totally destructive rage out of control - no, anger, which is a contained, well controlled and highly focused form of hate.
Myself I don't particularly worry about, but I cannot and will not forgive the 78 days of my son and other children running to air raid shelters instead of schools.
But, I will not have my beloved
audio put down. So, on 20 March 2000, I went on the air with the
country's first and only radio audio show. Radio is much better
for sound than TV.
Of course, the first thing we do when we get in is to kill all EQ and even the limiter - this does strain the man behind the controls, but it provides for much better sound. The show is reflected in a free web magazine, and as of 5 April 2000, a colleague and friend, Dr Dragan Cosic, who has a technology related show on a popular TV station has set aside 5-6 minutes for my audio section. Kudos to him.
So, in five weeks flat, I developed a total approach idea - audio was nowhere, and in five weeks, it's on the radio, on the web, on TV and in some magazines. Incidentally, the radio show and the web magazine are called "Bez izoblicenja!", or "No Distortion!".
Currently, I'm working on a pre-
and power amp combination. My friend and I set very high goal
posts; we want the amp, at 100W/8 Ohms nominal power, to be able
to to deliver full voltage (i.e. double the power in watts for
every halving of the load impedance), which means peak outputs of
over 1,000W into 1 Ohm.
This in turn means peak currents of over 40 Amps, and with minimum distortion. On the other hand, it will mean that the amp is completely indifferent to whatever is connected as a loudspeaker.
In the meanwhile, I listen to my
two systems in two rooms - yes, I do have that. It's the years of
testing, the first thing one learns when testing is not to trust
his own self, let alone the manufacturer.
So, in order to obtain a reasonably accurate perception of anything, I need to listen to it in two different rooms, with two different systems - that way, I hear sounds I would surely not hear with just one system.
Of the people in audio I respect, there are several names I feel I need to mention. In random order, I have great respect for Dr Sydney Harman (Harman International), Paul McGowan (PS Audio), Nelson Pass (Pass Labs), Richard Fryer (Spectral), the late Saul Marantz, Paul Klipsch (Klipsch Loudspekers), Dr Matti Otala (Finnish amp guru, worked with Philips and Harman/Kardon) and the Sonus Faber speaker design team.
Oh yes, the final point - I
don't believe in exorbitantly priced audio. Obviously, one needs
to strike a balance between quality and cost, and there are many
But as one who has designed his own gear, I know that circuit quality is more important than materials quality, even if careful attention should be paid to materials, using high grade stuff where it can really contribute, rather than sprinkling it indiscriminately all over the place and rocketing the price up on afterburners.
© Copyright 2000 Dejan Veselinovic - http://www.tnt-audio.com
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